What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life of Pi is an intense, emotional story of survival and triumph against the odds, with themes of faith, friendship, and perseverance. Although it's rated PG, and there's virtually no strong language, sexual content, or blood, this adaptation of Yann Martel's bestselling novel has several very harrowing (especially in 3-D) scenes of storms, shipwrecks, the possibility of implied cannibalism, and zoo animals threatening humans and confronting, killing, and eating each other -- all of which are likely to be too much for younger children (as are the themes of allegory and mysticism, which will require thoughtful parental explanation). Pi is in near-constant peril throughout the story (though it's told as a flashback, so you know he'll survive) and, after losing his whole family, he must negotiate sharing a very small space with a large, unpredictable tiger (one of Pi's tactics involves peeing on part of the lifeboat they share). But through it all, he remains determined and optimistic, relying on his strong faith to see him through every challenge he must face.
  • Families can talk about which version of Pi's story they think is true. Why do you think that? Which one do you think the movie wants you to believe?
  • What is the movie saying about faith? Is it necessary to be religious to be faithful? (Or vice versa?) How is Pi's faith tested?
  • How does the movie depict Pi's many losses? Do you think you could overcome the challenges he faces? How do his experiences change him as a character?
  • If you've read the book, how does the movie compare? What changes did you notice? Why do you think filmmakers sometimes change things when adapting books for the big screen?
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